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最激烈的战争─美国大联盟

2006-08-19 09:46

    As much a part of an American summer as ice cream and school vacations, baseball has a grip on the national psyche unrivalled by that of any other sport. The game evolved from obscure origins into the huge, multimillion-dollar industry it is today.

    The first recorded baseball game took place in 1845, but the sport did not take off until the early twentieth century with the birth of the National and American Leagues and the World Series.

    was the golden age for pitchers, and home runs were hard to come by against throwers like Cy Young and Walter Johnson. Offense regained the initiative in the 1920s, when legendary hitter Babe Ruth stamped his explosive presence on the game and blazed the trail for the five-decade domination of the New York Yankees.

    After the Second World War came a period of transition for baseball. The majors opened up to ethnic minorities, big name teams the Dodgers and the Giants moved to the west coast from their New York roots, and the leagues eventually expanded to four divisions of six teams each.

    Recent years have seen serious strain put on fan loyalty, with skyrocketing salaries and two damaging player strikes. But spectacular batting displays by the likes of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, along with top quality pitching from Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux have kept the spectators coming and the cash flowing through America's favorite sport.

    The nickname "Rocket" might seem a tad incongruous for a man who stands six feet four and weighs over two hundred pounds. For New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, however, the reference to speed is purely in association with his devastating ninety-five-mile-an-hour fastball.

    Born in Ohio in 1962, Roger Clemens first made his name in baseball by pitching for the Texas Longhorns to help win the 1983 College World Series championship. His next step was joining the Boston Red Sox as a first-round pick in that year's draft.

    The Rocket carved out an impressive career with the Red Sox, later moving to Toronto before being traded to the Yankees. He is a five-time winner of the Cy Young Award with more than three thousand strikeouts, and in the 2000 World Series, Clemens threw the first complete-game one-hitter in LCS history to help the Yankees overcome the Mets.

    Clemens has his share of detractors. Die-hard Red Sox fans are unlikely to ever forgive his departure, perceived as being inspired by financial greed. Last year's World Series triumph was overshadowed by a bat-throwing incident that sullied his reputation, and he has spent more than his share of time on the disabled list.

    At age thirty-eight, the Rocket's days in major league baseball are surely numbered, yet he can still overwhelm even the best hitters, who will likely be feeling his power for a while yet.

    历史上最激烈的战争──美国大联盟

    盛夏时节,棒球在美国人心目中的地位,足以同冰淇淋和学校暑假媲美,更是其他运动所望尘莫及的。这项运动的起源不甚清楚,但流传至今已成为几百万资本的大产业。

    有正式纪录的第一场棒球赛始于1845年,但要说到真正的盛行还是在二十世纪初国家联盟及美国联盟成立,“世界大赛”(两联盟冠军赛)诞生之后。

    初期是投手们的黄金时代,在赛。扬及沃尔特。约翰逊等强投手中,全垒打很少出现。到20年代,进攻一方再次赢得主动。传奇击球手贝比。鲁斯爆炸般席卷球场,并为纽约扬基队开创了长达五十年的霸主地位。

    二次世界大战后棒球面临转型期。大联盟取消了种族政策,知名球队如道奇和巨人告别发源地纽约,大举迁至西岸,两联盟后来也扩张成四个分区,各六支球队。(现为六 个分区共三十支球队。)

    近年来,球员的天价薪水和两次破坏严重的球员罢工给球迷的忠诚度带来严峻考验。幸而杰出重炮手如麦圭尔和萨米。索萨的全垒打竞争,加上顶尖投手罗杰。克莱蒙斯、蓝迪。约翰逊、佩德罗。马丁内斯及格雷格。马达克斯的精湛表演,吸引球迷回笼、钞票回流,美国人对棒球的热爱有增无减。

    “火箭人”这个昵称,用在一位身高六英尺四英寸、重逾两百磅的巨汉身上,似乎有那么点不协调。然而对纽约扬基队投手克莱门斯来说,“火箭人”纯指他火箭般的球速──时速超过95英里的快速球。

    克莱门斯于1962年在俄亥俄州出生,1983年就读德州大学时帮助该校长角牛队赢得大学联赛总冠军,首度在棒球史上留名。他在该年第一轮的职业棒球选秀会中被波士顿红袜队挑走,进入棒球生涯的新阶段。

    克莱门斯在红袜队留下了难以磨灭的丰功伟绩。后来转到多伦多蓝鸟队,接着再转至纽约扬基。他五次获赛。扬奖,投过三千多次投杀球,在2000年世界大赛,他投出大联盟冠军赛史上第一场一安打完封胜,帮助扬基击溃大都会队。

    然而,克莱门斯也遭到到一些责难。死心眼的红袜球迷始终不能原谅他的离队,认定他是见钱眼开。去年世界大赛的胜利也因他向击球手回掷球棒而蒙上阴影,他的名声也因此遭致玷污;还有他整季因伤所困,长期名列伤兵名单。

    三十八岁高龄的克莱门斯在大联盟的日子已不多了,但他仍足以压倒最强悍的击球手。相信他的球威仍能叱吒球场好一段时光。

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